I’ll admit, I wasn’t old enough to remember the first iteration of Kevin Garnett in a Minnesota Timberwolves uniform. I only have one memory of him when I was a kid and that was when the Wolves were in the playoffs. Other than that I cannot apply anymore context to the memory. Kevin Garnett is one of the main reasons I wish I was born earlier so I could experience Target Center when Garnett and company were in full force. Nonetheless, I wanted to write a piece dedicated to Garnett because of how much he did to progress basketball in the state of Minnesota.
Born in Greenville, South Carolina, Garnett began to develop a love for basketball when he was in the midst of middle school. He went to have a tremendous high school career in South Carolina as well as the city of Chicago where he later moved to play basketball. In his senior season in high school he was awarded National High School Player of the year by USA Today in the state of Illinois.
Kevin Garnett was posed with difficult situation while finishing his senior year in high school. His academic profile wasn’t good enough to be able to play at a division 1 college unless he paid his own way his freshman season. His only other option would be to enter the NBA directly from high school, something that hadn’t been done for two decades.
Garnett opted to declare for the NBA Draft. Many NBA general managers were wary of Garnett’s ability to translate from high school, directly to the NBA. A tremendous physical and mental task that Garnett would learn to understand his rookie season. The Timberwolves, led by Kevin McHale and Flip Saunders, saw the potential and fire in the young man and had their sights set on him as long as he fell to the 5th pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. Thankfully, that’s exactly what happened.
In his 12 years with Minnesota, Kevin Garnett was an all-star ten times, 1st Team All-NBA three times, and All-Defensive 1st team six times. The Timberwolves also made the playoffs from 1996-2004.
Garnett’s greatest achievement was when he won Most Valuable Player in the 2003-04 season. A season in which he led the Timberwolves to the Western Conference Finals against Los Angeles Lakers. In his MVP campaign he had 24.2 points per game, 13.9 rebounds per game, and 5.0 assists per game. He also finished with 2.2 blocks per game and 1.5 steals per game. He was tremendous on both ends of the floor. He was a perfect combination of a modern big man in today’s NBA. Garnett was one of the first iterations of what we would call a “unicorn” in the modern age of basketball.
Unfortunately, the Timberwolves could never put a good enough team around him to succeed against the best talent the NBA had to offer. Garnett’s Wolves only escaped the first round of the playoffs once in his first 12 year’s with the team. With them falling to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, it signed to Garnett that he would need to move elsewhere to secure the ultimate goal of an NBA Championship.
At this point in my life, I fully remember watching Garnett in the NBA Finals. I remember the “anything is possible” post game interview. It didn’t strike me then what Garnett had meant and done for the state of Minnesota. His passion will never be matched, his trash talk will never stop, and his love for ‘Sota continues. Hopefully, Garnett and Wolves’ ownership come to a mutual understanding because it’s been too long since Kevin Garnett has been in the house that he built. Thanks KG.
As the story concludes, let’s enjoy some of Garnett’s best plays in a Minnesota uniform.
photo credit theundefeated.com